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July 20, 2012

Multitools for Pioneering

A good multitool comes in very handy in many Scouting (and every day) situations. The difficulty lies in balancing between having a large tool that prepares you for every possible eventuality, and a lighter tool that includes most practical tools. For pioneering, a good compromise is a tool that has a good main blade, an awl/reamer of some kind, and a wood saw. Pliers are useful for other things, but I don't often find a use for them when pioneering.

Of all the tools I've used, I find Victorinox to consistently produce the best tools at a reasonable price. They are rust-resistant, Scout-proof, easy to sharpen and, as the well-known Swiss Army Knife, non-threatening to people who aren't familiar with knives. Victorinox produce a few tools that have the minimum requirements for pioneering, and any of them would be a good buy:

Firstly, in 'traditional' red plastic are the Hiker and Camper - both of these have a tin opener, bottle opener, large blade, small blade, wood saw and awl. They also both have a toothpick and tweezers- they tweezers are useful for removing splinters. The Hiker has a philips screwdriver, while the Camper has a corkscrew (which some people use for untying knots).

Slightly larger, and with aluminium scales instead of plastic, is the Farmer. This knife has a large blade, awl, bottle opener, tin opener and saw. The main blade is a lot thicker than the ones on the Hiker and Camper. The awl is a particularly good tool- sharp, strong and easy to use because it opens at one end of the tool rather than in the middle.

Finally, and biggest of all, the Soldier is the current Swiss military issue knife i.e. the only 'true' Swiss Army Knife as used by the Swiss Army today. It has a one-handed, locking, serrated blade, which cuts ropes pretty well (but may well be illegal for general carry in your country- be sure to check your local laws), as well as a locking screwdriver/bottle opener, a can opener, saw, philips screwdriver and awl. This is the knife I carry on my Scout uniform and, while it is a little more expensive than the Hiker, I find the locking, serrated blade to be very useful to rope work.
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